Our Bank  Always Willing To Give Out Agric  Loans – BoA MD

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By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON 

The Managing Director (MD) of the Bank of Agriculture, Mr. Alwan Ali Hassan  has said that the bank is always willing to give out loans  schemes that have to do with agriculture. 

He made this known at an interview with newsmen in Abuja after the bank’s  interactive session with the Senate ‘Adhoc Committee on Uneven Disbursement of Loans /Grants/Interventions of Six-Political Regions  by Nigeria’s Development  Banks’, at the National Assembly.

According to him, ’’ I have personally taken it upon myself that we are going to go round the country to inform the people that  our bank is ready and willing to give out loans  schemes that have to do with agriculture, poultry and  livestock farming. 

“So they should come forward to seek these loans and subsidies from the government. Majority of these people are supposed to be small holder farmers. These are the class of people we seek to come and benefit from these loans in order to farm food crops as well as cash crops that would benefit them and the country.’’

Fielding questions on the outcome of the meeting with the Senate ad hoc-committee, he said the bank has been able to defend itself on the issues raised by the committee and was hopeful that they were satisfied with their submission.

‘’ What we discussed with them was that there is a realization that one of the development banks gave out an excessive bank loan. This is the reason why we were asked to come and make clarifications. And we have been able to make our own clarifications. We did not give out loans on our part in excess. 

“The reality is that the loans actually differ from one area to another.’’

Speaking further on the bank’s various agricultural loans, he revealed that the North has more farmers who collect loans from the bank than the South, because of the high population of farmers in the region and the vast available farming lands in the North.

‘’Well, if you look at  it from  the Southern and Northern angle, you will see that both have three political zones, but the Northern part is larger. And everyone knows that farming is more prominent in the North.  

“The North has more vast land for farming. So if you were to investigate which part accesses  these loans the most, you will see that the North accesses it more than the South, because it is in the North that you have large farming. It is there that you have more livestock and husbandry and cattle grazing,’ he said.

Responding to the impediments to accessing these loans easily by the small time farmer he said,  ‘’Every loan has its own requirements. Like small loans that we don’t collect collateral, like a house or other assets, all we require is a guarantor.  And we are not asking this guarantor to give us money. All we want from him are his signature, his NIN number and his BVN to be certain that the person is really who he claims to be. 

“And the BVN account he provided could repay your loan if you defaulted. Apart from this, once the loan exceeds into millions then you have to bring us collateral.  That is security. So once you have that, we will give you the loan you want,’’  

The MD used the occasion to explain how and what it takes for a small holder farmer to access the bank’s various agricultural loans and the procedures.

‘’The first thing you have to do is to go to one of our branches. We have at least three branches in each state. There is one branch in each senatorial zone, and we have two in Abuja. That is 110 branches. So you go to the bank nearest to you or your locality and open an account and then apply for the type of loan you want. every branch manager has a limit,  and once you fall into this limit  he will give you the loan, but if  it exceeded he will take it to the zonal manager and the limit of a zonal manager is about to five million naira loan but if it is above five million then you have to proceed to the head office.‘’

Speaking on the upcoming 5o years anniversary of the Bank of Agriculture and its achievements  he said the bank has disbursed loans  to  various people across the country since its inception with establishment of various companies.

‘’Many people have been given various subsidies and loans since our inception.  Even before the establishment of the Development Bank, a lot of people have gotten loans from this bank .And the bank has established various companies across the country. For instance there is a tea making company that was set up in Kano state. There was a company for making rubber established in Imo and River states. And we are still establishing others. We have disbursed loans to people to set up rice mills, maize, and corn grinding mills. 

“We also have people who are into livestock, fish farming and even piggery. We are a bank set up for the purpose of assisting small farmers. And the federal government makes use of our bank to disburse any grant it set up on agriculture related issues. We have various channels and branches to carry out these assignments.  And we pray that people who connect these loans pay back. Fifty years is not a joke.   

“The bank has never been closed in its fifty years of existence; rather it has been merged with other banks.. So you see the government knows the importance of the bank. And it was left for the farmers to benefit from its programmes.’’

On measures put in place by the bank to recover loans from defaulters who happened to be faced with challenges, he said the bank always carries out investigations to ascertain the kind of challenges the person  is facing.

‘’ What we do here is to carry out what we call thorough investigation to ascertain the kind of challenge the person is facing, either self  induced or a natural disaster.  Then we would give you more time to repay your loan. 

“Because we know the challenges you are facing. That is why we always advise the farmers on the need for insurance.  So we always try to find out what kind of problem the person is facing. What type of natural disaster happened to him?  Sometimes we add money for him to carry out his farming or poultry and maybe add more years for him to repay his loan.’’

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